Sunday, 12 July 2009

A Sheltered Haven 12/07/2009

With the tent holding up well to a very wet and windy night, I woke to a sunny but still very windy morning.

I took a short walk to Wooltack Point to take a look at the conditions around Skomer, it looked a bit wild and with the boat trips to Skomer being cancelled plus the forecast predicting strong winds all day I decided to take short drive to Dale and hopefully find some shelter in the Haven.

It was a totally different Dale since I was last here on 21/03/2009 , today was a bit of a slalom course paddling through all the moored boats.

Dale was quite sheltered until I passed the Dale Fort Field Centre at Dale Point, where the southerly wind hit me and an old landing craft heading out of the Haven was having a bit of a bumpy ride.

As I paddled into Castlebeach Bay the sea conditions again calmed. Paddling out of Castlebeach Bay the skyline on Watwick Point is dominated by the huge navigational tower.

In the shelter of the Point I watch another ship escorted by the Pilot boat. Both were having a very rough ride through the large swell entering the Haven which became apparent as I paddled around Watwick Point.

Again paddling into the sandy Watwick Bay it is amazing how the sea conditions vary in just a few hundred yards.

Paddling out of the bay I pass the remains of the jetty that used to supply the West Blockhouse Fort which is one of the forts built in the 1860's to defend Milford Haven from those Frenchies again.

I was going to paddle onto St Ann's head but there was no shelter from the southerly wind so I decide to turn around and follow the 3 cardinal buoys along the edge of the shipping lane and out to Stack Fort.

The first I reach is the East Cardinal Buoy named after the Dakotian, a cargo ship sunk by a German magnetic mine on November 21st 1940, the wreck lies about 100 metre from the buoy.

The next buoy is the South Cardinal Behar Buoy which again is named after another shipwreck, the Behar, which again was sunk by another German magnetic mine 3 days after the Dakotian sinking.

The third buoy is the South Cardinal Montreal Rock Buoy which is not named after anything as exciting as a shipwreck but a submerged rock to the north of the buoy.

As I paddle from the buoy to the Stack Rock Fort, the Pembroke Ferry passes me as it leaves the Haven on it's way to Rosslare.

Approaching the Stack Rock Fort, a marvel of Victorian construction, there is an example of modern construction in the background, the LNG terminal, I know which I find more pleasing to the eye....

Stack Fort is another of the forts of the Haven built to protect against those dreaded Frenchies. Building was started in 1859 and completed in 1871.

Stack Fort is one of the many forts around Britain's coast commissioned by Viscount Palmerston to deter the threat of invasion and were never used in anger. Hence they are known as 'Palmerston's Follies'. Today the only invaders are the protesters against the LNG Terminal!

From the fort I paddle NW into the shelter of Butts Bay and another of the Haven's navigational towers on the Little Castle Head.

Paddling over to the disused jetty at Great Castle Head, the water is glassy calm, totally different to the sea as I paddle round the headland and back into the SW wind. It is a struggle to take photos of the Great Castle Head Fort and Radar Station.

It is quite a slog paddling to Watch House Point with its jagged rocks and the small hole piercing it near the top. It is not until I get back into Dale Road and the shelter of Dale Point that I manage to get a bit of respite from the wind.

While I have been paddling it looks like Dale has been invaded, not by those damn Frenchies (luckily) but by pirates!

The nearer I get to the jetty at Dale the calmer the sea gets but with no sign of any pirates.

A paddle of just over 9.5 nautical miles in very differing conditions but at least I managed to get on the water.

It is now a short drive back to the tent where, for the first time in 3 days I can cook with the tent open and even manage an evening's walk over the Wooltack Point to watch the sun setting over Skomer. Lets hope it continues tomorrow.

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